longest available agent

Step one to leveraging a call center software solution that meets the needs of your business is understanding what you’re working with. Your call center software determines the ability of your sales and support teams to operate effectively. You need to be well-informed about what it can and cannot do. This goes both for buying a new solution and operating an existing one.

The barrier to entry here can be high and some people may find the idea boring. Who wants to learn about call center acronyms and customizable settings? Answer: You. You do. You wouldn’t buy a car without checking out what’s under the hood, would you?

To date, Talkdesk’s blog has nearly 800 posts, the vast majority of which are specifically designed to help readers understand key call center software concepts. At Talkdesk, we’re here to help you understand where to find the oil-checking thingy and learn to use the GPS joystick navigator button tool.

This post explores “Longest Available Agent,” an essential element to call routing.

What is Longest Available Agent?

Simple. The longest available agent (LAA) is the call center agent that has been sitting idly (i.e. not on a call or in after call work) for the longest amount of time. In many call center software solutions, the Longest Available Agent becomes the “Next Available Agent.”

How Can I Calculate Longest Available Agent?

Trick question. Longest Available Agent is NOT a call center KPI, despite the fact that it sounds like one. This is not a metric that you calculate and then call Bob into your office to ask him why he’s so available all the time.

When you receive an inbound call, your call center software directs that call to a specific agent or group of agents. How it chooses which agent all depends on your automatic call distributor (ACD). Your ACD works with your interactive voice response (IVR) and computer telephony integration (CTI) to get callers where they need to go.

ACD 101:

When a call is connected, the call center software attempts to connect the call to the most appropriate agent. This routing is based off of predefined criteria, which vary based off of the call center. Generally, it involves IVR and skills-based routing.

Using the IVR, callers input relevant information. For instance, one caller might select “Spanish” → “Support.” The ACD would then attempt to route the caller to a Spanish-speaking support agent.

Routing to the Longest Available Agent is one way the ACD can choose which specific Spanish-speaking support agent’s phone rings. Makes sense, right? Don’t route the call to an agent who’s just gotten off of a call. Give it to someone who hasn’t been in the game for a while.

Note: If the aforementioned “Lazy Bob” is the Longest Available Agent but doesn’t speak Spanish or work on the support team, he will NOT get the call.

What’s the Point of Longest Available Agent?

Well… Routing to the longest available agent is one of a few options call center managers have when customizing their call center software settings. There are five major options:

  • Uniform call distribution: Calls are routed to the Longest Available Agent.
  • Linear call distribution: Calls are routed to agents based on a predetermined configuration starting with the same agent every time.
  • Circular call distribution: Calls are routed to agents based on a predetermined configuration starting with the agent that is after the last agent to receive a call.
  • Simultaneous call distribution: Calls are routed to all available agents at once and the first to accept the call handles the call.
  • Weighted call distribution: Calls are routed to available agents according to predetermined percentages assigned to each agent.

Different call centers have different needs in terms of routing. Prioritizing the Longest Available Agent might be optimal for a very busy call center because it allows agents to get the maximum amount of rest time between calls. It can also prevent call center agents from getting bored or feeling jealous over who gets what amount of calls.

Then again, routing the Longest Available Agent may be a poor choice for a smaller call center, in which there are some agents who are only meant to field calls in cases of overflow. Perhaps Bob isn’t so lazy after all, he’s just a member of the Marketing Team, a sort of “double agent.” He should always be the last person on the call distribution list.

No matter what works best for your call center, it’s important to understand what all the terminology means so that you can make an informed decision. Congrats on reading this far. You’re now one term closer to being able to identify everything that’s under the hood of your call center software solution.